Title: House of Secrets
Authors: Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Series: House of Secrets #1
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Amazon | Goodreads
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: April 23, 2013
Source: ARC from the publisher for blog tour
Summary: The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult.
Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family’s secret history and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world.
Welcome to my stop on the HOUSE OF SECRETS blog tour! I was stoked to read this book–HELLO! It’s blurbed by J.K. ROWLING. I’m not even kidding–so it goes without saying that I’m so excited to be able to tell you all how much fun Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini‘s book is. It’s a fast-paced, imaginative, funny story that’s got heart and laughs. The Walker siblings are a lively, unique bunch, and the world in which they find themselves is full of danger and tests of their loyalty. HOUSE OF SECRETS is really fun start to a series that promises to keep readers invested and enchanted.
So, HOUSE OF SECRETS is about the Walker family. They’ve fallen on some hard times recently and are looking into turning over a new leaf. Just so happens that Kristoff House, and old kind of weird house is for sale on the cheap–like, the suspiciously cheap–but the Walkers buy it anyway. The Walker kids–15-year-old Cordelia, 12-year-old Brendan, and 8-year-old Eleanor–are your typical bickering siblings, and their relationships are put to the test when, not long after moving in, they are thrown into another world based on the fantastical, historical epic novels of the home’s original owner and certifiable loony toon, Denver Kristoff. Adventure and craziness ensue and the Walkers must fight to make their way home again, all while fending off the evil Wind Witch, who wants to obtain a powerful book her father hid inside his novels.
Friends, the Walkers had me laughing within two pages of starting HOUSE OF SECRETS. Well, Brendan mostly had me laughing. He’s got that snarky, hilarious 12-year-old boy sense of humor. One line that had me LOLing involved Brendan HONESTLY believing that he’s a badass because he’s “almost JV lacrosse.” I loved him.
His sisters, Cordelia and Eleanor, each bring their own personalities to the story: Cordelia is a typical oldest–she’s bossy and a smarty-pants. Eleanor, who suffers from dyslexia, is ADORABLE and tougher and smarter than her siblings give her credit for. Their relationship is humorous and heart-warming, and I loved how each of the kids brings something different and important to the story.
As with lots of middle-grade stories, HOUSE OF SECRETS moves at a clip. Sometimes things happen super fast, but mostly the pacing is great. When the Walker kids get shoved into some of Denver Kristoff’s books by his crazy daughter, Dahlia, aka the Wind Witch, basically ALL THE THINGS happen, and the kids and some new friends are bounced around between several different stories involving medieval warriors, pirates, dangerous magic, giants, and always, a test of their ability to think of each other instead of just themselves.There’s a lot going on, but nothing overwhelming.
Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini have written a book that seamlessly weaves from one author’s chapters to another. I’ve read other books authored by two people and you can sometimes tell–the story feels a little choppy and the tone and voice are different. HOUSE OF SECRETS didn’t have that feeling at all. It was just one cohesive story. Sure, things happen quickly, and so we cover LOTS of bases here, but I would never say that the story doesn’t flow well. Just FAST.
If you’re a fan of adventurous middle-grade tales with lots of humor and imagination, then HOUSE OF SECRETS by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini is a super book to grab. I’m looking forward to the continuing saga of the Walker clan in book 2!